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28 July 2008, 10:22

Microsoft opens up at OSCON

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On the last day of OSCON, Microsoft set out to redefine the company's relationship with the open source community with a set of announcements. In his keynote speech, Sam Ramji, Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab director, outlined three moves by Microsoft to begin this process.

Microsoft has become a platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation, becoming the third such sponsor, alongside Google and Yahoo. This $100,000-a-year sponsorship funds the operation of the Apache Software Foundation and just grants Microsoft the right to put an ASF sponsor logo on its web sites. Ramji countered the suggestion that this move could point to Microsoft abandoning IIS for the Apache web server saying "It is not a move away from IIS as Microsoft's strategic web server technology[...] We will continue to invest in IIS for the long term and are currently under way with development of IIS 8."

Microsoft has also moved a number of protocols from its Communications Protocol Program, and placed them under its Open Specification Promise (OSP), while simultaneously clarifying the OSP. The Apache POI project had run into issues in implementing OOXML, as the OSP was vague on the question of wether a partial implementation of a specification would be protected. The OSP now covers such partial implementations, a move welcomed by Andrew Oliver who founded the POI project, who wrote "At one time, I donated my open source project to Apache, partially out of fear of Microsoft. Now, Microsoft is becoming a key contributor to this project."

As part of the clarification, a new answer added to the OSP Q&A section, explicitly states that the specifications and protections are available to all developers and projects, including works covered by the GPL. It now states that "The OSP provides the assurance that Microsoft will not assert its Necessary Claims against anyone who make, use, sell, offer for sale, import, or distribute any Covered Implementation under any type of development or distribution model, including the GPL."

Microsoft released a patch for the ADOdb database layer for PHP, adding support for the SQL Server team developed native driver for PHP. To comply with the ADOdb licence, these patches were dual licensed under BSD and LGPL. Ramji said "This is our first code contribution to PHP community projects but will not be the last."


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